ESTATE PLANNING: After a Divorce – The Last Step
While the last thing that an individual who has gone through a divorce wants to do is contact another lawyer, a divorce should trigger a need for new estate planning documents.
First, you do not want your former spouse named as your Personal Representative or Trustee. Also, you will not want to name him/her as the primary beneficiary of your estate.
Next, your assets are now different from what they were prior to the divorce. You will need to re-think your gifts to your family and friends. This means a new Will or Trust.
If you have minor children, it is more important than ever to name a Guardian (who would step in only if your spouse were deceased) and a Conservator to handle the money for your children. While you cannot eliminate your former spouse from having custody of your children if you die, you do not have to leave him/her in charge of the money for the children.
You will want to name different agents for your Durable Power of Attorney (for financial and legal affairs). You do not want your former spouse as the individual paying your bills and having access to your checking and savings accounts. You will need to name someone you trust and you should name a back-up individual, just in case.
Also, you will want to execute a new Patient Advocate Designation (Health Care Directive). Again, you do not want your former spouse as the individual with the power to direct your medical care or to “pull the plug”. You will need to name individuals you trust to handle your medical decision making if you are unable to do so.
The last thing a recently divorced individual wants is more legal bills or contact with the legal system. It is, however, very important as your last step in the divorce process.